Select Page

Rep. Muñoz: STC approves agreement with Pharr leaders that will result in creation of “landmark” South Texas Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Featured, from left: Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, on Thursday, July 9, 2015, following their presentations before the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s 84th Legislative Wrap-up Luncheon, held at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel in McAllen.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Plans to build the South Texas College Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence in Pharr received final approval from the STC Board of Trustees on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, a move that will result in a multi-million dollar economic impact for the city while improving law enforcement throughout South Texas, said Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission. On a unanimous vote – with District 5 Trustee Dr. Alejo Salinas, Jr. of Edinburg excused on important business – the remaining six board members present for the public meeting approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Pharr and the Pharr San Juan Alamo Independent School District that will result in a major presence by STC on a 113.9 acre site located between U.S. Highway 281 and South Veterans Boulevard. “Obviously, this is a huge step for the people of Pharr and the PSJA school district because it brings one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in Texas into our community,” said Muñoz, whose House District 36 includes a large section of Pharr. “This is a landmark event, the latest success story in the Valley, and I congratulate the many people who worked long and hard to help make this happen.” The STC Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence was made possible in large part by Muñoz, who successfully authored House Bill 1887 last spring before the Texas Legislature. HB 1887 led to statutory authority for the STC to undertake the development of regional law enforcement training. “The Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence will increase necessary access to training opportunities for officers in the Rio Grande Valley region and, in turn, improve public safety and border security,” Muñoz further explained. “The training provided at the regional center also would provide officers with college credit toward either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, while the four police academies in the area would not.” The importance of establishing the STC complex in Pharr was emphasized during the State of the City Address on Wednesday, December 23, 2015, by Mayor Ambrosio “Amos” Hernández. “We are proud to announce that we have entered into a partnership to have a South Texas College facility in Pharr,” proclaimed the mayor, who was elected to his first term in May 2o15. “The facility will bring $9 million in economic impact and approximately $3 million in payroll.” Hernández shared Muñoz’ vision of the potential for the complex, with the mayor calling it “an STC Branch for PSJA ISD students.” Muñoz, a three-term state legislator who serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which shaped the current $200+ billion state budget, praised his fellow Valley lawmakers for helping pass the state law authorizing and helping fund the South Texas Regional Center for Public Safety. “Sen. Juan Hinojosa was the Senate author of my House Bill 1887, while Rep. Terry Canales, Rep. Bobby Guerra, Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, and Rep. Ryan Guillen were joint authors in the House, and they all deserve credit for this huge accomplishment,” said Muñoz. “There is no substitute for experience when it comes to getting what we deserve from the Texas Legislature.” According to STC, with the interlocal agreements with the city and school district be approved, it will take between 18 months and 24 months to build the 21,800 square-foot facility, which will be the initial heart of The Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence. The project will include classroom facilities, vehicle driving range, outdoor shooting range, firearms simulator, mobile firearms simulator/live firing range, driving simulator, obstacle course, fitness rooms, and administrative offices. The estimated initial construction cost is $6.782 million, which includes $4.2 million from South Texas College’s Series 2013 Bond Issuance, $1.5 million provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and $1 million provided by the PSJA school district. The City of Pharr will contribute 59 acres and the PSJA school district will contribute 10 acres to begin the project. Within two years, the City of Pharr has proposed contributing another 32.24 acres, and within five years, the City of Pharr proposes contributing 12.55 additional acres.

•••••• (more…)

South Texas College Regional Center for Public Safety in Pharr, created by Rep. Muñoz, set for action this evening by STC Board of Trustees

Photograph By PETER SALINAS

Featured: Rose Benavidez, Member, Board of Trustees, South Texas College, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, in the underground annex of the Texas Capitol, during Community College Day on Thursday, February 3, 2015.

Photograph By PETER SALINAS

Pharr could soon see construction begin on the South Texas Regional Center for Public Safety, to be located on a 113.9 site located between U.S. Highway 281 and South Veterans Boulevard, as a result of House Bill 1887 by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission. On Tuesday, January 26, 2016 (today), the STC Board of Regents are scheduled to review and approve an interlocal agreement with the City of Pharr and the Pharr San Juan Alamo Independent School District that will see the landmark complex take shape, and with it, improve the quality of public safety in deep South Texas. The pending action is part of the STC Board of Trustees’ regular monthly meeting, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Ann Richards Administration Building Board Room at the Pecan Campus in McAllen. Muñoz predicted the planned STC facility and site also will pave the way in the future for a branch campus – and possibly more – in Pharr, which is part of his House District 36 legislative district. “South Texas College is one of the best college systems in Texas, it is only one of a handful of community colleges in the state which offer university-level bachelor degrees, it is poised for greater growth, and it has helped transform the South Texas economy through its outstanding graduates who are as skilled and talented as they are numerous and in demand,” Muñoz said. “This is just the beginning for STC in Pharr.” The three-term state legislator, who serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee which shaped the current $200+ billion state budget, praised his fellow Valley lawmakers for helping pass the state law authorizing and helping fund the South Texas Regional Center for Public Safety. “Sen. Juan Hinojosa was the Senate author of my House Bill 1887, while Rep. Terry Canales, Rep. Bobby Guerra, Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, and Rep. Ryan Guillen were joint authors in the House, and they all deserve credit for this huge accomplishment,” said Muñoz. “There is no substitute for experience when it comes to getting what we deserve from the Texas Legislature.” According to STC, once the interlocal agreements with the city and school district are approved, it will take between 18 months and 24 months to build the 21,800 square-foot facility which will be the initial heart of The Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence. The project will include classroom facilities, vehicle driving range, outdoor shooting range, firearms simulator, mobile firearms simulator/live firing range, driving simulator, obstacle course, fitness rooms, and administrative offices. The estimated initial construction cost is $6.782 million, which includes $4.2 million from South Texas College’s Series 2013 Bond Issuance, $1.5 million provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and $1 million provided by the PSJA School District. “The Regional Center for Public Excellence in Pharr shall increase necessary access to training opportunities for officers in the Rio Grande Valley region and, in turn, improve public safety and border security,” said Muñoz. “The training provided at the regional center also would provide officers with college credit toward either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, while the four police academies in the area do not.”

•••••• (more…)

STC Regional Center for Public Safety, to be headquartered in Pharr, set for hearing before Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday, May 20

20150520

Featured, from left: Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives in March 2015.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

House Bill 1887 by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, and Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, which would allow South Texas College to create the multi-million dollar Regional Center for Public Safety on a yet-undisclosed 50- to 60-acre site to be donated by the City of Pharr, is set for a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday, May 21. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, is serving as the Senate sponsor of HB 1887, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 29. “HB 1887 would increase necessary access to training opportunities for officers in the Rio Grande Valley region and, in turn, improve public safety and border security,” said Muñoz, who is the primary author of the legislation. “The training provided at the regional center also would provide officers with college credit toward either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, while the four police academies in the area would not.” According to the bill analysis of the legislation, HB 1887 would amend the Education Code to create the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence to provide education and training for law enforcement personnel in the Rio Grande Valley. “Having such an educational facility for our current and future law enforcement officials will be a tremendous benefit for the delivery of justice and the protection of all of us in deep South Texas,” said Canales, whose House District 40 includes 19 percent of the City of Pharr. “I appreciate Rep. Muñoz allowing me to sign on as joint author of HB 1887, and I look forward to working with him and the leadership of Pharr and South Texas College on this most important legislative effort.” Muñoz’ House District 36 includes 76 percent of the City of Pharr. South Texas College has agreed to fund $4.2 million for construction of a 16,000 square-foot facility to include a vehicle driving range, outdoor shooting range, firearms simulator, mobile firearms simulator/live firing range, driving simulator, obstacle course, fitness rooms, classrooms and administrative offices. The instruction provided by the regional center would include: education and training toward an associate of applied science degree or certificate or another public safety or law enforcement- related associate degree or certificate; a baccalaureate degree for applied science or applied technology authorized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) officer certification; and a continuing education certification. During the Tuesday, April 7 public hearing on the bill by the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety, STC President Shirley Reed and Pharr Police Chief Ruben Villescas testified for the bill. Also listed as supporting the measure during the House committee meeting, but not testifying, were Sergio Contreras, representing the City of Pharr, Lon Craft, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Texas Municipal Police Association, and Elizabeth Lippincott, representing the Texas Border Coalition.

•••••• (more…)

South Texas College extension facility for Delta Region, already approved by House of Representatives, scheduled for Senate committee hearing on Monday, May 18

20150517

Featured, from left: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya, on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, after addressing the South Texas College Board of Trustees at the Pecan Campus in McAllen.

Photograph By STEVE TAYLOR

Legislation proposing the creation of a South Texas College extension facility in the Delta Region of Hidalgo County, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Friday, May 8, is set for a Senate committee hearing on Monday, May 18, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced. Originally filed to create a branch campus of STC in the Delta Region, Canales changed the language of House Bill 382 to instead call for the creation of an extension facility in order to dramatically reduce the financial cost to the state, which significantly improves its chances of legislative passage. “By requiring an extension facility, STC would be directed by the Texas Legislature to set up a physical presence in the Delta Region, a move that can eventually lead to a branch campus,” Canales said. “What we are wanting to do is move this one step further down the line. We believe that whatever concerns the college may have about the fiscal viability of this program will be shown dramatically to be unfounded because it will quickly flourish.” According to the Texas Higher Education Agency, a branch campus is a major, secondary location of an institution offering multiple programs, usually with its own administrative structure and usually headed by a Dean. A branch campus must be established by the Legislature or approved by the Coordinating Board. He said that STC has an obligation to spread its resources to areas of Hidalgo County which have the population base and geographic location to deserve an extension facility, and eventually, a branch campus. “The Delta Region has historically been a neglected area that can see a positive change from this bill. The area needs better access to higher education to have the same opportunities (as other communities with STC campuses and sites),” Canales said. But times are changing, and for the better, in the Delta Region, further justifying predictions that STC would also grow with those communities. “If we talk about demographics and you look at companies and ask, ‘What are the demographics there?’ Well, they just opened up a Walmart Supercenter, and a new H.E.B., and those businesses conduct incredible demographic studies before they make those multi-million dollar capital investments,” he continued. Canales also spoke about ongoing plans by the state transportation leaders to connect FM 1925, known as the Monte Cristo Road project, between Edinburg and South Padre Island, a thoroughfare which will go through the Delta Region. “The Texas Department of Transportation has opted to expand what is the existing Monte Cristo Road into a highway that will go all the way to Cameron County,” Canales said. “That is why Rep. Lucio and his father, Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., and Rep. René Oliveira, support this bill.” The public hearing will take place before the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, whose chairman is Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville. The meeting, which is open to the public, was at 8:30 a.m. in Room E1.028 of the Texas Capitol complex. The session is available for live viewing on the Internet, or afterwards as a video recording in its entirety, by logging on to http://www.senate.state.tx.us/bin/live.phpby , find the desire program at the bottom of that web page, and click the “play” button. The live programs are listed by their scheduled start time. Lucio is the Senate sponsor of the measure, House Bill 382, of which Canales is the primary author. Canales’ proposal also enjoys vital support from House legislators from the two South Texas counties – Hidalgo County and Starr County – which STC serves. Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya, Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, Rep. Ryan Guillén, D-Rio Grande City, and Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-San Benito, are joint authors of Canales’ HB 382. The measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Friday, May 8, would require STC, which has campuses in McAllen, Weslaco and Rio Grande City, to establish an extension facility in either Elsa, which is in Canales’ House District 40, or in Edcouch, which is in Longoria’s House District 35. Under the proposal, the STC Board of Trustees are directed to set up the extension facility beginning with the 2016-2017 academic year. The legislation does not authorize STC to increase its property tax rate.

•••••• (more…)

South Texas College branch campus for Delta Region by Rep. Canales set for hearing before House Higher Education Committee on Wednesday, April 22

DSC_0037

Featured on Wednesday, February 26, 2o14 accepting a Hidalgo County Commissioners’ Court proclamation in support of the creation of a South Texas College branch campus for the Delta Region are, front row, from left: Cynthia (Cindy) Garza-Reyes, Interim District Director of the Edinburg Office for Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya; and Alex Ríos, District Director for Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. Back row, from left: Hidalgo County Commissioner Joseph Palacios; Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García; and Hidalgo County Commissioner A.C. Cuellar, Jr.

Photograph By HIDALGO COUNTY PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIVISION

Legislation proposing the creation of a South Texas College branch campus in the Delta Region of Hidalgo County, with the proposed site to be located in Elsa or Edcouch, is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Committee on Higher Education for Wednesday, April 22, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced. “South Texas College, which receives significant funding from all property taxpayers in Hidalgo and Starr counties, has an obligation to bring higher education opportunities and invest more of its resources in communities, such as in the Delta Region, which would most benefit from seeing a STC facility in its own backyard,” said Canales, whose House District 40 features portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr, San Carlos and Weslaco. The measure, House Bill 382, would require STC “to operate a branch campus within the corporate limits of the municipality of Edcouch or Elsa.” The legislative committee hearing on Wednesday comes as Rio Grande City, McAllen, Weslaco and Pharr are positioned to reap the benefits of a $159 million bond election for new construction that was narrowly approved in early November 2013 by voters in Hidalgo and Starr counties. Canales’ proposal is listed as the second measure on the committee’s meeting agenda, and is one of several House bills that will have a direct impact on South Texas College. The committee is scheduled to begin its meeting at 8 a.m., and if needed, continue later in the afternoon once the full House of Representatives, which begins its work at 10 a.m., finishes up for that day. The session will be available for live viewing on the Internet, or afterwards as a video recording in its entirety, by logging on http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/ by clicking the House Committee on Higher Education. For the past few years, Canales has been working with Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya, to convince STC to establish a physical presence in that region. Longoria’s House District 35 includes Edcouch, La Villa, and Monte Alto. Hinojosa’s Congressional District 15, which covers Brooks, Duval, Guadalupe, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Karnes, Live Oak, and Wilson counties, includes Edcouch, Elsa, La Villa, and Monte Alto. Both Longoria and Hinojosa have ties to the STC Board of Trustees – Hinojosa was a founding member and first Chairman of the STC Board of Trustees, and Longoria served on the STC Board of Trustees before being elected to the Texas House of Representatives in November 2012. Canales, Hinojosa and Longoria first publicly brought up the need for the Delta Region branch campus when they addressed the STC Board of Trustees on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. “We outlined a proposal that would benefit the people in the Delta Region. The presentation included statistical data from the U.S. Census Bureau highlighting population pockets within our district and their needs,” said Hinojosa. “During the (March 25) presentation, trustees heard well-formulated plans to create a STC satellite campus in the Delta region. With a college anchored in the Delta Region, students from surrounding communities such as La Blanca, San Carlos, Hargill, Faysville, Linn, San Manuel and Puerto Rico will also have the opportunity to attend a campus that is more accessible.” The Delta Region communities are connected by East State Highway 107 between Edinburg and Weslaco. Although Weslaco has the STC Mid-Valley Campus, located about a dozen miles away from Edcouch and Elsa, that site is land-locked with limited space to expand, Canales reflected. “The Pecan Campus, which is the northernmost campus of STC, leaves huge areas of Hidalgo County with long commutes to attend classes,” Canales said. “A STC campus in the Delta Region would be able to expand in order to serve not only the students from the Delta Region but also from Edinburg and for future students from northern Hidalgo County, where much of our population increases will occur in the coming years.”

•••••• (more…)